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New Neurodivergent (Autism/ADHD) Diagnosis—What Now?

Updated: May 21

One question I get a lot from parents is, "My child was recently diagnosed with Autism or ADHD. What do I do now?" For most parents, including myself, hearing that my child has a condition that will affect them for the rest of their life can feel scary. You can feel a little lost, alone, and overwhelmed. All of those emotions are natural and expected. 

The first thing to remember is you and your child are not alone. One in 44 children in the United States is diagnosed with ASD, about a 240 percent increase since 2000, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Keep in mind that not all two diagnoses are alike. Your child is an individual, no matter the condition.

Some key things have been found to help children with Autism and ADHD.

  • Develop a stable schedule or routine for your child. Children with autism thrive on structure, so setting a schedule or routine can help regulate your child. 

  • Bring consistency into their routine, how you interact with your child, and how you manage their behaviors. You should act the same way toward your child at home as you would at grandma's house or the store. 

  • Maintain skills they are obtaining by finding out how they do things at school and practicing that at home.

  • Keep sensory difficulties in mind. Many neurodivergent children do not like loud noises, bright lights, etc. 

  • Use visuals. Neurodivergent people tend to be visual learners, so they will benefit from visual representations of what you are saying verbally.

I usually also parents a list of books to read when their child is newly diagnosed. These are a great place to start:

Image of the book cover for The Reason I Jump, which features a young boy surrounded by butterflies

I also recommend that children and siblings or child relatives learn about the condition through helpful age-appropriate books.

Image of the book cover for Afrotistic, featuring an illustration of a young black woman standing in front of a an abstract purple and yellow background

Finally, I recommend Implementing a tool like the THRIVE app, which helps you and your neurodivergent child in their everyday life. I don't just recommend it because I created it. I recommend it because it works. I have seen my children gain confidence and independence from the visual structure it brings to their day. The self-regulation feature helps them center themselves, which is great, especially when they are at school or in activities. The messaging feature keeps me in constant contact with their teachers, doctors, and caregivers—I never have to dig through emails, texts, or phone numbers. 

Your child’s diagnosis does not define them—it makes them who they are—and that is a pretty great kid.

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